Sunshine, a delightful gift to the soul. After all the rain and mud throughout our Pacific Northwest winter, a beautiful spring-like day in mid March is like seeing a beloved friend return after a long trip away. We have had two such days and everyone on the farm has a dreamy, eyes half-closed expression on their face. The goats are standing in the field slowly chewing their cud, the ducks and chickens are dozing in sun lit patches of dry ground and we all seem to share a corporate gratefulness of the moment.
The rain will return and I am compelled by the thought that I should make the most of this opportunity to do something productive. Even though I love being responsible and getting things accomplished; I really just want to lay on a blanket and dream of the wild daisies that will be popping up shortly. Spring will be here in a couple weeks followed by the long days of summer. Projects and activities will fill morning till night and I will find myself once again dreaming of the those cozy winter evenings cuddled up with a good book.
The cycle of seasons can affect us like a merry-go-round or a ferris wheel; we can get caught in a whirling spin that makes us dizzy or we can permit them to lift us up and give us an elevated perspective. As much as I enjoy the crazy, knot in your stomach feeling from spinning; I think I am going to take a cue from the animals around me and enjoy the moment. It is a lovely day to sit in the warmth of the sun and reflect on the wonderful things I have absorbed from a variety of life’s experiences. I have learned, time taken for reflection and rest is not wasted time; It is a rewarding endeavor that can enable us to move forward with a new inspiration or renewed purpose.
Now, I think I will go find that old blanket.
A year ago I had never experienced the deep love and friendship a dog can bring into your life. Sure, I’ve heard a dog is man’s best friend and I had seen numerous movies highlighting the bond between a pooch and their person. I am not an insensitive person by any means, I even teared up at the end of the movie “Homeward Bound” when Shadow limped down the hill to reunite with his boy, more than once I might add. Despite all this, the dog /human relationship had eluded me. If I am honest I will say there were even occasions I rolled my eyes towards those who willingly endured the hair, slobber, barking, and destruction in their lives without even the sense of annoyance on their part. I quickly learned that you have to be careful with holding onto your opinions to tightly.
Last October my daughter gifted me with a Great Pyrenees puppy for my birthday, and that not so tiny ball of white fur has grown and grown, not just in physical size but in the affect he has in my daily life. I have learned to move much slower and to contemplate my surrounding as I go. As a California native I was used to doing everything fast and getting things almost immediately. I grew up living in the fast lane, literally; I like constant motion but I don’t enjoy life moving so fast you don’t have time to enjoy the scenery. There is so much to be missed in a culture of immediate gratification, patience isn’t seen as a virtue, it is a means to cause frustration to those who want their answer or response, right now thank you! Raising a puppy requires patience, and a lot of it. For me, it also meant standing in the rain and cold while he learned to go to the bathroom outside and the diligent repetitive training it takes to have an obedient and responsive companion instead of an unruly terrifying beast.
This past year my patience has grown immensely and the bond I share with my dog has altered the perspective on more than a few of my former opinions; more importantly it has realigned my overall way of approaching life. Farmdog and I take a walk around our property daily, we don’t hurry, we stop and smell the flowers and he thinks it is important to smell everything else as well. We notice our surroundings and investigate the little changes that happen daily. Tonight as we sat at the top of the hill overlooking our little blue farmhouse and the valley beyond, I was overcome with the simple, gratifying contentment of being quiet and with doing nothing but enjoying the company of my furry friend. I am pretty positive we won’t be the subject of a heart warming book or movie but learning to slow down and enjoy the simple joys of life has impacted me deeply. I encourage anyone out there who is caught up in the busyness of life and needs to slow down; take a walk with a dog. It might not change anything but then again, it might change everything.
It feels incredibly daunting and a bit terrifying to finally begin something I have been planning for so long. I have wanted to write my entire adult life but busyness and lack of confidence has kept me from stepping out in a public way. I have written and journaled over the years but seldom if ever have I truly allowed myself to express my inner thoughts and opinions in a tangible way. Today, I am keeping a promise to myself to open up, expose my fears to the light and allow my personal failures and victories to possibly encourage others. On the cusp of turning 49, I can say my greatest achievement thus far are, the last 30 years of marriage to my husband Brandon and our whole-hearted investment in raising three wonderful, now grown and married children. We have poured out everything we could of ourselves to love and nurture these three complex, diverse and deeply loving human beings ,who in turn have each found their perfect spouse to share their lives with.
I will never regret the sacrifices we made so our children would be equipped to pursue their dreams; it has been my heart’s joy to see them stretch their wings and fly high in their own unique endeavors. Their needs required me to suppress the deep desire of living the farm life and keep that dream safely nestled deep in my heart for a very long season. In the last year that chapter of my life came to a wonderful close when we purchased 5 acres in rural western Washington and my baby girl walked down the aisle to marry her love. I may have an empty nest but it is on a farm! It is a new place so full of potential and promise that it makes my lonely mother’s heart overflow with gratitude and hopefulness.
So, I begin this literary adventure with an experiment: What happens when you finally begin to live out what you have only dreamed of for years? My hypothesis is that I will find something new to discover each day and I will learn to live a deeper, fuller and more abundant life because I do. Today, October 1, 2017, Day 1 of the “Smith Farmhouse Experiment”, I am sharing this specifically poignant new find of an empty bird’s nest. I found it in a young Alder tree as I was pulling down the overgrown blackberries vines from it’s branches. As I sit here with my full cup of coffee and the beauty of fall settling in, this empty nest compels me to consider this truth: in life we often experience the highs, lows, the beautiful and the ugly at the same time and that contrast is so richly poetic. Nature is an artistic grace, an ever alluring promise of hope which inspires my determination to find something new tomorrow and we all need something to look forward to, don’t we?